The COVID-19 pandemic that spread to Russia as well as to other states of the world caused additional problems for our scientific life, making it impossible to hold the preplanned scientific events in usual format. The Centre for the Study of the Russian-African Relations and African States’ Foreign Policy of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences had scheduled on March 31, 2020 an international scientific conference “Africa in the context of the formation of a polycentric world”. The significance of this problem seems considerable enough, since its discussion raises a number of important issues, including the growing role of African countries in the process of creating a polycentric world and the desire of the African countries for greater subjectivity. At the same time, the fact that the modern global processes are taking place in the context of the growing competition among international actors for influence in the world, including Africa, becomes particularly important for Russia.
Given the importance and relevance of the raised issues and the interest shown by potential participants (more than 40 applications were submitted), it was decided to hold the conference on March 31, 2020 by correspondence. The scholars, postgraduates and students, representatives of research institutes of Russian Academy of Sciences (Institute for African Studies RAS, Institute of Oriental Studies RAS, IMEMO RAS, Institute for the US and Canada Studies RAS, Institute of Far Eastern Studies RAS, Institute of Control Sciences RAS), as well as higher educational institutions (RUDN, MGIMO, etc.) took part in this conference. A wide range of issues was discussed, including various aspects of the African countries’ foreign policy, issues of African integration, Africa’s role and place in new geopolitical conditions, the policy of the leading economically developed and developing countries and Russia’s current policy on the African continent.
The discussion on the first block of themes “Africa: global problems and current trends in the world economy” was opened with RUDN Prof. V. I. Yurtaev’s paper “Afro-Eurasia: challenges of participation in the formation of a polycentric world”. Не raised the following questions: will the rise of the Afro-Asian world as a new alternative to the existing world order occur in the 21st century, and how necessary are the European and/or Eurasian components in this process? A.I. Neklessa made a contribution on the rather controversial topic of “Postcolonialism in the context of civilizational and regional development”. In addition, there were papers on economic trends in North Africa (A.A. Tkachenko), digitalization in Tropical Africa (N. N. Tsvetkova), challenges that Africa faces today in the fight against drug trafficking (N. N. Grishina), money laundering and the financing of terrorism (Ntegge Edward).
The second block of issues “Russia and Africa” was opened with E.N. Korendyasov’s substantive research paper dedicated to the new stage in the development of Russian-African relations, the milestone of which was the Russian-African Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi in October 2019. This topic was also discussed by G. M. Sidorova and E.V. Kharitonova. The economic aspect of Russian-African relations was reflected in the reports of E.V. Morozenskaya and S.N. Volkov, and the presentations of Z.S. Novikova and L.N. Kalinichenko contained an analysis of Russia’s cooperation with African countries in the fields of new technologies and energy sector.
The increase in the scientific interest for African policy of the leading Western powers was shown by the reports of the third block “Western countries and Africa”. Five presentations (A.Yu. Urnov, V.K. Parkhomenko, G.R. Grigoryan, A.A. Stepanov, A.Ya.Matkovskaya) were devoted to US policy in Africa; the topic of three other reports (O. S. Kulkova, N.V. Ivkina, N. G. Gavrilova) were the relations of African countries with the EU. Two speakers (A. M. Khalitova and M. R. Toure) focused on the problem of French policies in Africa. Finally, this section concluded with the report on Japanese-African relations (A.A. Zabella). In contrast to the above papers, concerning the policies of separate developed countries or their groups in Africa, the report of corresponding member of RAS, doctor of Economics, Professor Leonid L. Fituni focused on the role of the concept of a politically exposed persons in the structure of mechanisms of the West’s sanctions pressure on African elites.
The participants in the discussion showed the expected interest in the problem of the “new players” in Africa. This interest was particularly manifest during the discussion on the topics of the fourth block of problems “Emerging and developing countries and Africa”. The BRICS countries policy in Africa was in the focus of attention. Three reports were devoted to China’ s African policy (T.L. Deych, E.M. Serbina and O.L. Fituni), while two other (A.Yu. Borzova and A.L. Sapuntsov) – to Brazil-Africa relations. Such active new players on the continent as Turkey (Mirmehti Agazade) and the United Arab Emirates (S. V. Kostelyanets) were not left without attention, as well.
The fifth block contains papers on a fairly broad topic “Foreign policy of African countries and inter-African relations”. Two participants (O. V. Konstantinova and A.Yu. Sharova) addressed the issue of African integration that has become particularly relevant in recent years, while the others devoted their reports to the problems of foreign policy of individual African countries: S.V. Nenashev – Angola, T.S. Denisova and E.N. Zanoskina – Nigeria, N.A.Panin and Yu.D. Vertashov – South Africa, S.M. Shlenskaya – Madagascar.
The conference demonstrated a great interest of the scholars, postgraduates and students in the discussed problems and contributed to further researches within these main trends.
polycentric world. Africa, economics, foreign policy, Russia, USA, EU, BRICS, China, integration, cooperation, investment, aid, challenges of globalization